Washington, D.C. – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) today introduced the Maritime Architecture and Response to International Terrorism in the Middle East (MARITIME) Act with members of the House Abraham Accords Caucus – Brad Schneider (IL-10), Ann Wagner (MO-02), David Trone (MD-06), Don Bacon (NE-02), and Jimmy Panetta (CA-19).
This bipartisan legislation would build on the Abraham Accords by requiring the Department of Defense to develop a strategy with partners and allies in the Middle East to counter maritime threats posed by Iran, violent extremist organizations, and criminal networks. An integrated maritime security architecture would expand U.S. intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance (ISR) capabilities, as well as operational coordination with partners and allies in the region to defend against shared threats.
“We have made significant progress to deter Iranian aggression in the Middle East, but there’s more work to be done,” said Rodgers. “This legislation is a critical piece of the puzzle that will help us develop a comprehensive strategy to successfully defend against Iranian-based threats, regardless of if they come by land or by sea. More importantly, shoring up maritime security cooperation between the United States, Israel, and our partners in the region is our next step down the road to achieving a lasting peace and securing a more prosperous future for all.”
Last Congress, Cathy and her House Abraham Accords Caucus co-chairs led the bipartisan Deterring Enemy Forces and Enabling National Defenses (DEFEND) Act, which was signed into law as part of the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act. The DEFEND Act requires the Department of Defense to develop a strategy to establish an air and missile defense architecture with Israel and other Middle East allies to protect the region from attacks by Iran and Iran-backed extremist groups.
“As Iran continues to develop its enrichment capabilities and increase its threats to the region and the world, the United States and our allies must now, more than ever, come together to combat the rising threat of a nuclear Iran,” said Schneider. “Strengthening maritime cooperation in the region is an important step towards countering Iran and other bad actors and deterring further regional escalation.”
“As Co-Chair of the Abraham Accords Caucus, I have worked with my colleagues to build on the successes of the Abraham Accords and promote stability in the Middle East. I am proud to co-lead this legislation, which demonstrates the United States and other Abraham Accords countries are committed to safeguarding freedom of navigation in a critically important region,” said Wagner. “The MARITIME Act will help the United States and its Middle East partners work together to counter sea-based threats from erratic actors like Iran, transnational criminals, and terrorist extremists. As Iran continues to flout restrictions on its nuclear program and fund terrorist proxies around the region, closer security cooperation between Abraham Accords countries must remain a top U.S. priority.”
“Now, more than ever, Iran poses a threat to security and stability in the Middle East. History makes clear that we must work together to ensure the continued safety and peace in the region,” said Trone. “The MARITIME Act symbolizes the spirit of collaboration fostered by the Abraham Accords and signifies a critical measure that would help countries defend against Iranian threats. I urge my colleagues to support the protection of innocent lives.”
“For many years, Iran has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to threaten international shipping and this threat grows more complex and menacing every month,” said Bacon. “By leveraging the opportunities created by the Abraham Accords, the bi-partisan MARITIME Act will get us on a more integrated and capable path for maritime security in the region.”
“With the increasing threats from Iran and the non-state actors to maritime operations in the Middle East, the United States, alongside its allies and partners, need to be ready to counter this malign behavior,” said Panetta. “The MARITIME Act expands our intelligence gathering and situational awareness of these threats, integrating and strengthening our partner nations’ ability to respond to actions that destabilize the region’s critical waterways. Through this legislation, we’ll better protect our shared security, economic, and diplomatic interests within the Middle East.”
Companion legislation is being introduced by the co-chairs of the Senate Abraham Accords Caucus – U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and James Lankford (R-OK).
CLICK HERE to read the bill.